Clump-forming shrub; stems erect, freely branched, 0.5-2.5 m tall; branches angled, grey or yellowish-grey.
Deciduous, appearing simple, in fascicles in axils of branched spines, egg-shaped, 1-6 cm long, coarsely spine-toothed, prominently veined beneath.
Inflorescence of hanging or arching racemes; racemes 2-6 cm long, arising in the leaf axils; petals yellow, entire.
Oblong berries, 1 cm long, red or purple.
If more than one illustration is available for a species (e.g., separate illustrations were provided for two subspecies) then links to the separate images will be provided below. Note that individual subspecies or varietal illustrations are not always available.
Illustration Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia
This spiny shrub may be mistaken in BC for Japanese barberry (Berberis thumbergii). Several key features separate the two, however. The leaves on Japanese barberry are entire and untoothed, while the leaves on common barberry are coarsely spine-toothed; the flowers of Japanese barberry are solitary flowers or umbellate with up to 5 flowers while the flowers of common barberry are racemose. with 10-20 flowers per raceme (Flora North America 2011).